For Waterford resident Doug McVey, it is hard to beat the combination of a football game with a smorgasbord of foods, multimillion-dollar commercials ... and a little wagering, just for fun.
Like many Americans, McVey said he bought a few chances to win some money on the game in an office pool. An estimated $4 billion is expected to be wagered on the games this year in the U.S., according to the Council of Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey.
The most common pools are played out on 10-by-10 grids that are assigned numbers at random after all the squares are sold. Rows represent one team and columns the other. Winners are determined by finding the square that corresponds with the score of the game at the end of each quarter.
The popular games are legal as long as all of the money collected is paid out to the winners (the person operating the game cannot collect a fee).
“I like to gamble a little,” McVey said. “And I guess it does make the game a little more interesting because you have a chance to win something.”
McVey said he has about $10 invested in the games, which generally cost between $1 and $10 per square, although some can go as high as $100.
Ronnie Davis, 61, of Marietta, said the games definitely make watching the Super Bowl more fun — especially when he doesn’t care much for the teams that are playing.
“Are there pools going around Marietta? You bet. A lot,” Davis said. “Everyone likes gambling, as long as you don’t get carried away with it.”
Davis said he was lucky enough to win $1,000 on one of the boards a few years ago.
“Most of the games are $1 or $5 to play, but you can get into some more expensive games that can cost some money,” he said.
As for predictions on the big game, McVey said he wants to see the New York Giants win.
“I just don’t want to see the (New England) Patriots go undefeated,” he said. “I can’t give a better reason than that.”
If the Patriots win, they would become the first team in NFL history to finish with a 19-0 record.